Sacred Heart Prep looks to repeat winning football formula | News | Palo Alto Online |


Sacred Heart Prep looks to repeat winning football formula


It's been an incredible run for the Sacred Heart Prep football program the last four years. The Gators have won four consecutive Central Coast Section championships, made two state championship game appearances and completed the transition from small-school power to being included among the biggest and the best.

They lost a number of key performers off last year's team that won a CCS Open Division III title and played in the state Division III-A championship game. Players like quarterback Mason Randall, tight end Andrew Daschbach, running back Lapitu Mahoni and a number of linemen.

"This will be rebuilding year, let's face it,'' SHP coach Pete Lavorato said., "But we'll be fine. There might be some losing at the beginning, but if we can just hang in there for a while ...''

That's the way it went last year. The Gators were coming off a 13-0 season, lost two of their first three, but then got it going all the way to the state finals.

"We have some good athletes,'' Lavorato said. "Nice kids who are athletic.''

Randall, now at the University of San Diego, is the biggest piece to replace. He started 40 games, a number virtually unheard of for a high school quarterback, over three years and was great in the clutch.

Thomas Wine will take over at QB. He was the backup last year and played a lot on defense at strong safety.

"He's a very good athlete,'' Lavorato sad. "A bit more of a runner than Mason, but he can throw.''

Wine (pronounced Winnie) welcomes the challenge.

"I feel I learned a lot from Mason last year,'' Wine said. "I'm very grateful for all the mentorship I've received.''

Big shoes to fill and a high standard to maintain. The Gators have gone 49-7 over the last four years.

"It's high school football so you lose guys every year,'' Wine said. "I'm really excited about some of the young guys, some of the young linemen coming up from the JV team. I'm excited to see what they can do.''

Mahoni is gone at running back, but Isoa Moimoi returns after rushing for 1,108 yards and 15 touchdowns as a junior.

"The first couple of games will be a testament to what kind of team we can be,'' Moimoi said. "I think this group of guys here have the potential to be great.''

Isaiah Broughton is a candidate to replace Mahoni at the other running back slot.

Alex Harper returns at flyback. Michael Mooring is a top wide receiver. Kevin Tinsley steps in for Daschbach, now playing baseball at Stanford, at tight end.

"He's faster than Daschbach and a good blocker,'' Lavorato said.

Center Kyle Stalder is a third-year starter on the offensive line. Guard Josh Suzuki is another returning starter.

On defense the secondary is a strength. James Kirkham returns at free safety and Schafer Kraemer at cornerback. Jeff Donnelly is penciled in at strong safety.

David Peterson showed flashes of talent and potential at linebacker last year as a sophomore. Brendan Semien has moved from defensive end to inside linebacker. Sean Clark and John McCrory will start on the defensive line.

Kicker Peter Larson returns.

"We should be OK,'' Lavorato said. "Like last year it might take a while to get our feet under us. Then we'll be OK.''

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13 people like this
Posted by play fair
a resident of Palo Verde
on Aug 22, 2016 at 2:26 pm

High schools that can recruit ... sorry pardon me "attract" athletes ... should not be able to play lower than Division 1 or Open Division. Allowing a school like Sacred Heart to play Division 3 which includes small public schools is a joke, they should hardly be proud of that.

1 person likes this
Posted by don't be a hater
a resident of Menlo Park
on Aug 22, 2016 at 3:03 pm

To "play fair": Get some facts before you post uninformed comments. If you think SHP is recruiting athletes, you don't know that there are many exceptional athletes at other area schools who applied to SHP but weren't offered admission. If you think the SHP football team doesn't play schools that are large or credible, you haven't looked at the schedule of opponents from previous years (including when it won the CCS Open Division two years ago). Where SHP has an advantage is in its leadership: head coach Pete Lavorato and his staff may be the best in the state because of the way they motivate the student-athletes.

9 people like this
Posted by play fair
a resident of Palo Verde
on Aug 22, 2016 at 4:04 pm

I didn't mean to pick on Sacred Heart they have a fine program. My point is that when they have a good year they play open, when they don't have as good of a year they are allowed to play down to D3. Other private schools do the same thing. If you think that is fair to smaller public schools results don't lie. Here are the playoff results from last year. Here are your facts...
Web Link

notice how the private schools faired against public schools and you see this in most sports. CCS needs to create a better playoff system

as for recruiting, it depends how you define recruiting. don't kid yourself it happens. My view is it's not worth the effort to enforce rather create a playoff structure that is more fair to those schools who can't "attract" talent but rely on the random luck of who lives in their area

8 people like this
Posted by show me da money!
a resident of Charleston Gardens
on Aug 22, 2016 at 5:04 pm

Private schools charge tuition, they also offer financial scholarships and assistance. It's not surprising that those often find their way to talented athletes.

1 person likes this
Posted by don't be a hater
a resident of Menlo Park
on Aug 22, 2016 at 9:40 pm

To "play fair": CIF and CCS define the divisions and formats, and a school doesn't make its own choice of level. When CCS had an Open division in 2014, SHP was in it and won it by beating perennial power programs Los Gatos and Bellarmine. In 2015 CCS changed the postseason format and prevented SHP from playing higher than its "native" division, but it definitely wanted to go higher. And if you look at SHP's choices of non-league opponents in recent years, you will realize that most of them are very large schools that represent aggressive choices to play "up" and not "down" as you suggest is their preference.

Your general criticism of the way public and private schools are grouped is unclear, as there are many cases of large public schools being in the same division as small-medium private schools, not the reverse as you suggest. In SHP's division, every other school in their division is public and has a student population about triple their size, so that seems like a disadvantage to SHP, not to the public schools as you suggest. Or maybe you don't realize how small SHP is (150 students per class) or how large its rival public schools are (400-500+ per class)?

The CIF/CCS formats aren't perfect, but they are trying to devise a system that balances many factors. Don't be a hater toward schools like SHP that have built successful programs just because of the imperfections of the larger system. Maybe the real problem is the inconsistency of the programs at the public schools that you think are being treated unfairly? You might say that it is simply an issue of money, and to be fair that is one factor, but the quality of coaching, culture within the program, and support of the community are far larger factors. The unfortunate reality is that not enough people in the public schools and those schools' communities show enough sustained commitment to many athletic programs, especially football.

5 people like this
Posted by I didn't know that
a resident of Menlo Park
on Aug 23, 2016 at 9:42 pm

@ Play Fair

The Private/Public sports argument has been going on forever and it's a loser no matter which side your on. The reason the privates tend to do better is coaching and participation rate. Sacred Heart has about 300 boys in the school and according to Max Preps they have a roster of 35. Approximately 11%. I will argue that if Menlo Atherton, with it's 2,279 students ( about 1,100 boys ) had a participation rate of 11% and fielded a football team of 121 players they would beat Sacred Heart each and every year.

You wrote "allowing a school like Sacred Heart to play Division 3 which includes small public schools is a joke, they should hardly be proud of that." This weblink taken from the CCS website shows the enrollment numbers from all of the member schools. After searching Won/Loss records I don't find one instance of Sacred Heart playing a football game against ANY of the public schools below, or even close, to their 615 enrollment number. Not one.

Web Link

For the Public schools with enrollment numbers GREATER than Sacred Heart the four nearest schools that they have played are Carmel ( 869), Half Moon Bay ( 997 ), Terra Nova ( 1003 ) and Burlingame ( 1385 ). They have also competed in Football, and have beaten over the years, Aragon ( 1521 ), Woodside ( 1772), Mountain View ( 1875 ), Los Gatos ( 1971), Los Altos ( 2048 ), Sequoia ( 2113 ), Menlo Atherton ( 2279 ), Salinas ( 2675 ), and Bellarmine ( 3,200 ). Note that Bellarmine's enrollment is actually 1,600 boys and for CCS rules the enrollment is doubled.

If you argue that Privates "recruit...pardon me attract athletes" then clearly Bellarmine with it's 1,600 boys should never lose in any sport.

2 people like this
Posted by Mike
a resident of Atherton
on Aug 24, 2016 at 3:25 pm

Hopefully they don't have the exact repeat of last year.. [Portion removed.]

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